15 January 2024
St Swithun’s was founded in 1884 by Anna Bramston and has been lighting sparks and inspiring girls ever since. The school develops resilient, enquiring, optimistic and collaborative women who will stand of their own two feet and pull others up to stand alongside them.
The all-girls school has a range of activities planned throughout the year to celebrate the milestone and also look towards the future.
On 17th March the school community will come together for an evensong at Winchester Cathedral and drinks reception. Current students will celebrate with a birthday lunch and party on 3rd May before the Founders’ Day Concert that evening.
Students across both the senior and prep school will come together on 4th July to take on St Swithun’s challenges to raise vital funds for the Bramston Bursary Foundation.
Finally, pupils are researching the schools history and its links to Winchester and the wider local community.
Jane Gandee, St Swithun’s Headmistress said, “We are proud of the positive impact the school has had on generations of girls since its inception in 1884. Anna Bramston set about forming the school because she saw a lack of appropriate education for young women. 140 years on we are passionate about ensuring that all of our students have opportunities to learn who they are and what they can aspire to be without being laden with lazy gender-based stereotypes.”
The history of St Swithun’s
St Swithun’s was founded in 1884 by Anna Bramston. Alongside Amelie LeRoy, Anna formed a committee to raise money for the establishment of the school. Their efforts resulted in Winchester High School opening in the middle of Winchester on 5th May 1884 with seventeen pupils.
The aim of the school was to provide an education that developed the full capacity of every girl and enabled her to become a woman of independent thought. Originally located in the city centre, the school was at the forefront in the development of female education in the nineteenth century.
The school changed its name to St Swithun’s in 1927 and by 1929 it had grown to such an extent that it was decided to move to the current home on Magdalen Hill. Princess Mary the Princess Royal opened the new buildings in 1932.
The outbreak of World War II saw the school turned into a hospital and by 1942 it became an American casualty clearing station with as many as 700 patients a day after D-Day.
The prep school moved to the site in 1966. A fire saw the original building burn down in 1974 before being rebuilt within a year.
1984 marked the school’s centenary and H.R.H the Princess Royal visited the celebrations and opened the new sports hall on 5th May 1984.
The Performing Arts Centre was officially opened by the Mayor of Winchester in 2003. The main performance space Harvey Hall was named after Dr Helen Harvey, the school’s then headmistress who oversaw the creation of the centre.
Construction of a new prep school was completed in September 2015 with the additions of a performing arts hall and sports hall the following year.